TYPHOON “Karen” (international name: Sarika) lashed Luzon on Sunday, ripping off roofs, toppling power pylons and forcing more than 12,000 people to flee to safer ground, officials said.
Minor landslides and flooding were also reported a day after the cyclone brushed past a remote island and left one person drowned and three others missing, they said.
“The roofs of some house were blown away and power was cut in some areas,” Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said.
However, she said it was too early to say if Luzon had escaped any casualties, with local governments still assessing the extent of the damage in their areas.
Government crews and utility workers immediately went to work clearing roads buried by landslides, toppled trees and posts and other debris while some towns began sending people in shelters back to their homes as the danger passed, officials said.
“Karen” swept out into the South China Sea early afternoon after dumping heavy rain across a broad section of the island, the state weather service said.
The typhoon had struck Luzon’s mountainous east coast 11 hours earlier.
However, the weather service warned the nation to brace for a second storm expected to strike the same area as early as Thursday.
The disaster agency said nearly 12,500 people had left their homes shortly before “Karen” struck, seeking refuge in government-run shelters and relatives’ homes.
Eleven people were rescued after a boat capsized off the eastern island of Samar on Friday, while about 1,000 boats and 6,500 passengers were stranded at ports as the Coast Guard barred smaller vessels from putting to sea.
The disaster agency said 290 commercial flights, including 63 to international destinations, were cancelled due to bad weather.
Eighty-four climbers were also rescued from three mountains in the typhoon’s path, it added.
The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms that generate over the Pacific Ocean. The Southeast Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms each year, many of them deadly.
“Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan”) the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit land, smashed into the central Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.
“Karen” battered Catanduanes as it toppled power poles and communication lines and flooded low lying areas, isolating remote areas due to landslides triggered by heavy rains.
Catanduanes provincial police director Sr. Supt. Jesus Martirez identified the fatality as Rene Magtangob, 38, who died of drowning. He said he was still verifying if two other deaths were related to the typhoon.
The three fishermen missing off the coast of Catanduanes were identified as Zaldy de Jesus and Luis Tupig of Brgy Buenavista and Renerio del Valle of Tambongon village.
“Karen” also pounded Aurora province on its second landfall at 2:30 a.m. Sunday inundating rice fields and low-lying villages, bringing down trees and isolating the town of Dingalan after a bridge connecting Baler municipality collapsed due to high water current brought by heavy rains.
In Camarines Sur, waters cascading from Albay provinces prevented travel on major roads in the nearby towns of Nabua, Bato, Naga, Iriga and Baao due to floods.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said “Karen” also rendered five road sections in the provinces of Ifugao, Catanduanes, Albay and Camarines Sur impassable because of landslides.
The NDRRMC also reported power outages in some areas in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Norte
Some 100 mountaineers who trek to Mt. Mariveles in Bataan Sunday morning were assisted by a police search and rescue team, which brought them down to a safe area.
At least 34 provinces were affected by that rendered damage to crops and other agricultural products estimated at P53 million, most of which incurred in Camarines Sur, the NDRRMC reported.
NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad said they are still awaiting reports but declared that the situation is manageable, especially in Aurora province, one of the hardest hit areas.
“The effects of ‘‘Karen’’ are not so serious,” Jalad said.
Jalad said they were still verifying reports about three deaths in Catanduanes to determine if they were typhoon-related.
“We’ve no complete datails yet but the situation is manageable. We’re focusing on Baler where the typhoon made a landfall. The good thing is local officials there implemented preemptive evacuations. No casualty report so far from there,” Jalad told reporters during a news briefing at the Office of Civil Defense in Camp Aguinaldo.
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